iPhone on T-Mobile USA a 'big win' for Apple, says analyst

The iPhone is to be made available to millions of T-Mobile USA subscribers, which should help buoy up what might otherwise be a soggy June quarter for Apple.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer
Image: T-Mobile

The iPhone is finally coming to T-Mobile USA, and one analyst describes this as a "big win" for Apple that could help the company's June quarter outlook.

According to analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee, the addition to Apple of T-Mobile USA's existing 33 million subscribers,as well as the 9 million that the upcoming acquisition of MetroPCS will bring to the fold, is "positive", as this was one of the few remaining large carriers in the world that didn't carry iPhone.

T-Mobile USA's acquisition of MetroPCS will give it a total of 42 million subscribers, close to Sprint Nextel's 55 million, but far behind the 107 million that AT&T has, or the 116 million that go with Verizon Wireless.

"We believe," wrote Wu in a note to clients, "this will help AAPL capture incremental customers and strengthen its position against Google's Android, which got its start on T-Mobile USA."

And the consensus is that Apple could do with the sales boost. Wu's supply chain contacts say that iPhone build plans have been cut due to weaker than expected demand and what appears to be an inventory drawdown ahead of a refresh. Prevailing opinion among investors is that the June quarter will be conservative, so the addition of a new pool of potential customers is a good thing and could help keep the quarter less conservative than it might have been.

Wu sees more carrier wins in Apple's future. So far, neither China Mobile nor NTT Docomo carry the iPhone. China Mobile is the world's largest wireless carrier, with 703 million subscribers, while NTT Docomo has 61 million subscribers, which amounts to more than half of Japan's cellular market. Either of these could be massive wins for Apple.

Another likely catalyst during the second half of the year will be product refreshes. Wu anticipates refreshes including a lower-cost iPhone and new iPads.

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